possible value — it is meant to be a merging of the human and the divine. Anything less,the Church proposes, is a counterfeit for the love we yearn for at the deepest level of ourbeings. Sexual love is meant to image the mysterious and eternal "exchange of love"within the Holy Trinity. In the normal course of events, the mutual exchange of husbandand wife leads to a "third" — a new human life conceived through the work of the HolySpirit, "the Lord, the Giver of life."Contracepted intercourse marks a determined "closing off" of the sexual act to the HolySpirit, to the very life and love of God. In short, whether they realize this or not,contracepting couples are saying, "We prefer the momentary pleasure of sterilized sexover the opportunity of participating in the eternal love of the Trinity." To which I respond…bad choice! But do you think if couples really knew they were saying this, that theywould continue to do so? "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Lk23:34).Most couples simply have no idea what they're getting themselves into when theysterilize their sexual acts. So none of this is about assigning culpability. If I drink a cup of poison — but don't know it's poison — I haven't committed suicide; I'm not culpable formy own death. But it will still kill me, because whether I think it's poison or not has nobearing whatsoever on whether it is poison or not. Furthermore, if you know it's poisonand I don't, what would be the loving thing to do if you saw me reaching out to drink it? The Church is not trying to impose her morality on us. Like any loving mother, she istrying to prevent her children from unwittingly ingesting a very dangerous "poison tolove." As the 40th anniversary of
approaches, let us thank Pope Paul VIfor loving us so much.
Contraception and the Language of the Body — Part 3 of 6
By Christopher WestWe continue our series commemorating the 40th anniversary of
. PopePaul VI released this oh-so-controversial encyclical on July 25, 1968, re-affirming theconstant teaching of the Church on the immorality of contraception. To this day itremains a "thorn in the side" of many. It was once a thorn in my side as well. John PaulII's "theology of the body" helped remove that thorn and show me the glorious fragranceof the rose.Last time we observed that contracepted intercourse marks a determined "closing off" of the sexual act to the Holy Spirit, to the "Lord and Giver of Life." In this way, as John PaulII expressed it, contraception falsifies "the language of the body."We all know that the body has a "language." A wave of the hand says "hello" or"goodbye." A shrug of the shoulders says, "I don't know." A raised fist expresses anger.What is sexual intercourse meant to express? What is its true language, its truemeaning?According to Scripture, the sexual embrace is meant to express divine love. Preciselyhere, in the consummation of their sacrament, spouses are meant to participate in the"great mystery" of divine love. Whether spouses realize this or not, this is thesacramental power of their love. It's meant to be an image and a real participation inChrist's love for the Church (see Eph 5:31-32).